Thinking on Your Feet

5 Secrets to Standing Out at Job Interviews


You have just gotten that call…someone has just asked you to come in for a job interview, now what do you do?

Are you prepared to be in the spotlight? You must make a good impression and stand out when answering all those interview questions.  In addition, you must engage that potential employer in conversation.

How will you stand out among other applicants?  You have a well put together resume as well as the job experience and education they are looking for in a candidate. However, these things may not be enough!

What else can you do to stand out at the interview?  A few options include:

  • Wear an outrageous outfit
  • Sport a new hairdo (spiked or brightly colored would stand out)
  • Speak with a thick fake accent
  • Have friends call you during the interview pretending to be other potential employers, maybe this would show that you are in demand by other companies

These options could make you stand out to a potential employer; however, are these your best options?  A more productive approach is to impress them with:


To impress a potential employer, and stand out at a job interview, you must plan ahead.  Four ways to plan for a job interview are:

1. Research the company. Explore the company’s:

  • History, industry, mission, and marketplace
  • Involvement in the community
  • Culture and current employee profiles

During the interview, you should look for opportunities to integrate some this information into the conversation.  In fact, one of the questions the interviewer might ask you is, “Are you familiar with XYZ company and what we do here?” 

This gives you an excellent opportunity to stand out and make a good impression by summarizing key points from the information  you learned while conducting your research!

2. Gather information about the person conducting the interview (if possible).  This information can help you establish common ground with that person. Learn about their credentials, interests, volunteer service (if any), etc.

Tip:  During the interview, avoid asking the interviewer any personal questions.  Instead, use the information you learned by weaving it into the conversation and into your responses.   Weaving it in appropriately could engage the interviewer in a conversation that builds a bridge and makes a good impression on them.

3. Research interview questions and prepare brief, concise responses. Examples of interview questions are:

  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “Describe a situation where you went out of your
    way to help a client?”
  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • “What are your top two weaknesses?”
  • “Why do you want to work for our company?”
  • “Have you ever been let go from a job?”
  • “Why should we hire you?”
  • “What is your experience doing this type of
  • “Describe a situation where you were criticized
    by your supervisor?”

If you have done your research about the company, you can customize your responses in a way that will be more appealing to the interviewer.

Tip:  If the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself” don’t just repeat your resume information.  Give them more.  Talk about your personal qualities and interests.  Keep it brief.  You could say something like, “I am a hard-working, enthusiastic person with a good sense of humor.  People have said my best qualities on the job are that I am punctual and a fast learner.  My passions off the job are __________.”

Preparing your responses in advance will:

  • Keep you from giving too much personal information.  If you’re not prepared, you might ramble on about something that doesn’t interest the interviewer or worse you might share information that can damage your chances of getting the job.
  • Help provide the interviewer with specific examples of your experience and skills.  For instance, how you were instrumental in implementing a certain procedure and how it benefited your former employer.

4. Compose questions you will ask the interviewer. During the interview, the interviewer will usually ask if you have any questions. Not having any questions to ask them could show a lack of interest in the position or a lack of engagement during the interview. For this reason, it is a good idea to have a couple questions ready to ask them. 

Example: “On your website (or in an article) I read __________. Can you tell me a little more about that?”

This is your opportunity to impress them with what you know about their company, your interest in the job, and your interest in learning more about both.

Standing out at your next job interview does not require a crazy outfit, hairdo, or  accent. Standing out at your next job interview only requires advance planning.

Below, tell me the oddest question an interviewer has asked you during a job interview and how you responded.

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Make this your best day,


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Angie R. Boecker is a specialist in managing life’s chaos.  She is the author of two books, Effective Grant Writing: Submit a Stronger Application and The Secrets to Thinking on Your Feet and a blog entitled The Travel Element.  As a public speaker, Angie has spoken to audiences on topics that help them manage life’s chaos.